There are certain places that you see in a picture or on a postcard and though beautiful, you attribute its beauty to the photographer taking a perfectly staged picture at just the right angle. This pristine image captivates you and peeks your curiosity as to whether or not this place is really this beautiful, so you set out on a mission to get to this place before the end of time, for me this place was Santorini.
While Santorini may have been a top destination for Europeans it’s truly within the last few years that rest of the world has began flocking to this majestic place. The blue top churches and white washed buildings have intrigued many travelers. Not to mention a topography that’s sits high above the seas, creating views that only God could have sculpted. Santorini was the most beautiful place I have laid my very own eyes on. There was so much to do and see I find it impossible for me to cover to entirety in this post, but I will do my best to cover the highlights of memories that bring a smile to my lips and longing to my traveling heart.
The Logistics: Luckily for me I was already in Greece via my assignment to Crete. My only logistics was figuring out where and when to catch the ferry as well as booking a hotel. My mission was to get to Santorini Saturday morning, spend the day and head back sunday afternoon right on time for work duties on Monday. I booked my ferry via a ferry agency along with the hotel. Because Santorini is a heavily visited tourist destination in the summer finding a hotel was quite challenging. The travel agent literally spent an hour individually calling hotels for openings. After a long search she connected us with a boutique hotel in the capital city of Fira. Oia is the most popular city, easily recognizable by its blue top churches. If your goal is to stay in Oia you must book early as it is popular and more expensive. Fira is cheaper to stay and is about a 20 min ride to Oia. The ferry was approx. 60 euros each roundtrip. Due to limited seating availability for our group of 5, we had to book business class ferry tickets. The ferry is really nice and is broken up in first class, business and coach just like an airplane. There is no order to boarding so be prepared to be herded in like cattle along with cars , trucks and luggage. The ride to Santorini is a bout an hour and a half. Be alert that the ferry does stop at the other Islands including Mykonos , so do not get off at the wrong island.
Once you disembark the ferry be prepared for the same herding style disembarking as other passengers are waiting to get on the ferry to their destinations. Upon arrival you will be hounded by everyone from the car rental, the hotel, the tours to the uphill donkey ride(yes I said donkey ride)! fortunately for us our booking agent arranged for the hotel manager to pick us up for an extra fee and take us to the hotel. Our hotel manager was a really nice guy, very relaxed, not a care in the world(who would living in Santorini? ).
The drive from the pier to the hotel! hang on if you are afraid of heights. If you have seen pictures of Santorini I’m sure you are aware that the reason Santorini is such a beauty is because the entire city exist at the top of the steepest mountains, the result of a devastating volcano in Santorini( quick history lesson). After what was about an 30 to 45 min ride we made it to the top and to our hotel. We arranged to rent a car because if we wanted to cover a lot of ground during our short stay our hotel manager said that was best. you will also have the option of renting quads which I kind of wish we would have done instead. Also as a nugget to get to and from the main pier landing to Fira in Santorini they have a cable car system (more to come later on that) or a donkey ride (yes that is real). It’s pretty easy to get around Santorini but my best advice is rent a car or the Quads. Its simple and will save you tons on taxis which will cost more than a car. The streets are narrow and if you are a spooked by heights there are many curves on the edge of a mountain. The Good: My motivation outside of the beauty to get to Santorini was for my best friends birthday. I convinced her to buy a plane ticket to Greece while myself and another friend of ours were there for work.Like all best friends that love to travel she said ok and we were off. Santorini is the most beautiful place I have been to date! Again I repeat Santorini is the most beautiful place to date. It lives up to every cliché, every review and everything your imagination was capable of imagining. It was exactly like all those post cards you see on the internet, it was quite a surreal experience. Every moment felt as if I was creating my own post card. Upon initially getting to Santorini we signed up for a tour, again through our hotel manager. The cruise covered taking us to the volcano, dinner, time for swimming off the side of the boat( passed on the swimming, black woman not wanting to get her hair wet) and ended with a sunset in Oia. Can I just tell you that the sunset was so beautiful. It was definitely a romantic moment but since I was there with friends we just stood there while couples hugged each other. The cruise is a must do! The people of Santorini are friendly and laid back but did not speak a lot of English in the town of Fira, so practice your Greek.
We spent the rest of the day getting ready to explore the nightlife which there were plenty of clubs and bars that had no cover. We ended up bouncing down the stone and cobbled streets with narrow pathways going from bar to bar leaving as the music no longer peaked our interest. We ultimately ended up at a club that was semi upscale with an inside and outside vibe. The crowd was tourist from all over the world lost in the beauty and music of Santorini. We partied until the wee hours of the morning and made our way back to our hotel for a good night’s rest.
Our second day in Santorini was our last and we made our way to Oia in search of the blue top churches and postcard pictures that lowered us there to begin with. When we finally discovered them we were in awe and like all the tourist who venture to Santorini we went picture crazy! The Better: Day 2 for us was action packed. We were on a race against time to see it all before we missed our ferry ride back to Crete. We zoomed along narrow cliffs, bends and sharp turns gasping at how close the other cars were to the edge. Between tourist stopping or slowing to take pictures and quads on the road it was a rat race to make it from town to town. After leaving Oia, we were on the hunt for the black sand and red sand beaches that were heard were a must see. A few wrong turns later we arrived! what a sight to behold a beach with charcoal black sand and pebbles.(attributed to the volcanic ashes). The beach was stunning and upscale filled with umbrella clad beach chairs. Unfortunately we were unable to explore the black sand beach like we wanted to due to our fear of missing our ferry ride. That also meant no red sand beach for us either. We did however still manage to run though over 500 pictures that told a tale that we were at the beach for a day rather than an hour.
The Best: Overall the best part of Santorini is the views! They are beyond stunning. Because the cities are on a mountain top every angle provides a picture perfect view. We rented a car upon arriving at our hotel and our last mission was to return the car down the enormous mountain to the pier. Remember I stated that when we arrived our hotel manager took us up the hill so we were all quite terrified as to who was going to do the honor of being the brave driver going down the mountain. The view going down was breath-taking and it was surely one of the most memorable moments especially since we were now leaving that beautiful paradise behind! If you shall leave this earth and you have not been to Santorini you have missed out on LIFE!